On the Coffin Road

On our second day in Derbyshire, we walked from Edale to Hollins Cross. Turns out it’s also known as the “coffin road.”

Burial parties on the old route from Edale to the parish church at Castleton, before the village got its own church in Victorian times, used to stop for prayers at Hollins Cross on the ridge dividing the two valleys. [David Hey, A History of the Peak District Moors, Chapter 8]

We weren’t carrying a coffin—nor was anyone else we encountered—and we didn’t know to stop for prayers, either. Instead, we stopped, ate our sandwiches, and admired the views of the valleys and, off in the distance, Mam Tor.

Edale is the site of another bit of significant local history: “In 1900 George Herbert Bridges Ward formed what he described as ‘the first Sunday workers’ rambling club in the North of England’, the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers.” [citation, Chapter 7]

Bert Ward inserted an advertisement in the Clarion inviting readers to join him on a strenuous 20-mile ramble around Kinder Scout on Sunday 2 September 1900, meeting at Sheffield Midland station to catch the 8.30 am train to Edale. Eleven men and three women took up the invitation.

[T] line through the Hope Valley to Manchester (with a station at Edale) had been opened just a few years before. Now, ordinary people from the industrial cities had quick and cheap access into the heart of the Peak District . . . . The first ramble (a hard walk that Ward had reconnoitred the week before) followed an ancient footpath along the southern side of Kinder Scout, past Barber Booth and Upper Booth farms, up Jacob’s Ladder to Edale Cross, and down the other side of the Pennines to lunch and a sing-song at Hayfield. The party returned via the William Clough footpath around the northern side of Kinder Scout to the Snake Inn, the path that had been re-opened three years earlier. Tea for fourteen was ordered at the inn, to the surprise of the staff who had to bake fresh bread and cakes, and after another sing-song and long walk the return train was caught at Hope, arriving back in Sheffield at 8 pm. What a day! Ward kept repeating ‘Pioneers, oh pioneers’. He was asked to organise five more walks the following year. From such modest beginnings a mass movement was created. [citation, Chapter 7]

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Listening List

Ernst John Moeran (1894-1950), In the Mountain Country 

[I]n the Mountain Country, a rhapsody in all but name, [is a work] written under the spell of folksong. Moeran had resumed his collecting of such songs while composing these two pieces, and though the themes he uses are original, they could easily pass as traditional. The other major influences on these, and in fact on all of the works presented here, are the music of Frederick Delius, Jean Sibelius, and friend Peter Warlock, and—perhaps most importantly—the picturesque landscapes of the east of both Ireland and England.

The above excerpt is from the album notes here.


Credits: The sources for quotations may be found at the links in the text. As always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, the photographs are mine.

In an English Plague Village

Eyam Hall (from back garden)

Our book on the Peak District in England’s Midlands says of Eyam that “it will forever be known as the ‘plague village.’” As the story goes, the plague arrived in Eyam in 1665

In the house now known as the Plague Cottage . . . then occupied by a travelling tailor, who inadvertently introduced the plague to Eyam in a parcel of flea-infested cloth from London. The rector of Eyam, William Mompesson, persuaded most of the inhabitants to stay and seal off the village, even though many died from the disease. . . . [Simon Kirwan, Peak District Villages, pp. 44-45] Continue reading

In Sicilia: Imagination Unbound

Museo Regionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Belmonte-Riso, internal courtyard

Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

On our return trip from Siracusa to Palermo, we could see, off in the distance, a great flat-topped mountain, covered with snow. When, later, we consulted our map, we realized it must have been Mt. Etna. Continue reading